Tokyo Vice, based on Jake Adelstein’s book, is now streaming on HBO Max. The show follows a young American journalist who embeds himself in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and uncovers the yakuza’s secret infiltration of Japan’s political, financial and cultural heart. Ansel Elgort plays the lead role with Ken Watanabe as his counterpart in the police department. The show premiered on April 7th and has received positive reviews from critics. Tokyo Vice based on Jake Adelsteins book is now streaming on HBO Max

The Inspiration Behind This Hit Series

In 2009, Tokyo-based journalist Jake Adelstein published Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan. The memoir followed Adelstein’s reporting for Yomiuri Shimbun and dealt with his experiences as a crime reporter in Tokyo in his early 20s. Five years later, J.T. Rogers decided to adapt it into a miniseries for HBO Max.

Why Ken Watanabe Was Perfect For This Role

I recently had a chance to speak with Ken Watanabe about his new role in Tokyo Vice. His response was that he has always been interested in exploring his dark side, and if there’s anything darker than playing a reporter covering organized crime and sexual slavery in Japan (as he does in Tokyo Vice), I can’t imagine what it would be.

Where To Watch Tokyo Vice Online

Tokyo Vice started streaming April 7 on HBO Max. If you’re not a subscriber, here are some ways to watch HBO Max online without cable. HBO Max has also been offering free trials in select cities; if you live in one of those areas, check out our guide to watching HBO Max online for more information about getting access during your trial period and how much it costs after that (prices may vary). Alternatively, read our comparison of Sling TV vs. PlayStation Vue vs. Hulu with Live TV for help deciding which service offers what you want at a price that works for your budget.

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Other Shows Starring Ken Watanabe

After Watanabe wrapped up filming for Tokyo Vice, he immediately began shooting for another HBO show: Asia of Fire and Fury. His role in that series is only slightly less dramatic than his performance in Tokyo Vice. At some point after that, Watanabe will be appearing as a guest star in Black Samurai 2. After wrapping up Black Samurai 2, it seems probable that Watanabe will return to HBO Max for a third season of Tokyo Vice.

Tokyo Vice | Official Trailer | HBO Max

Coming April 7. Based on Jake Adelstein’s book Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan (2009), this gritty crime drama chronicles 25 years in Tokyo as a correspondent for The Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper and reveals a city where crime and politics are eternally entwined.


Ansel Elgort (Divergent) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) star in a gritty drama about an American journalist who becomes addicted to Japan’s criminal underworld while covering its seedy side. Tokyo Vice also stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a cop who has infiltrated Japan’s crime syndicates and Shiori Kutsuna as Elgort’s Japanese girlfriend.

Ansel Elgort as Jake Adelstein

As a teenager growing up in suburban Chicago in 1985, Jake used to pass his time between playing video games and reading true crime books. He knew then that he wanted to become a journalist one day but it wasn’t until 2000 when he was writing for an English-language newspaper in Japan that he discovered his true passion: writing about crime and criminals.

Ken Watanabe as Hiroto Katagiri

The chief editor of an English-language weekly tabloid in Tokyo known for breaking stories about Japan’s criminal underworld. He is a leading authority on organized crime and its ties to politicians and big business. This year, he became a national hero after fighting off a gang of men who tried to force him into their car outside his home one night. His wife and children were inside during the attack but thankfully escaped unharmed.

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Rachel Keller as Samantha Porter

Sam Porter becomes an international correspondent for Vice magazine and enters Japan in 2001 to report on yakuza activities. Sam begins living with Pops Yoshida, a former yakuza boss who retired and became a hostess at a club called Velvet Room. Through Pops and Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (Pops’ brother-in-law), Sam meets various contacts in Tokyo’s underground world including policemen and criminals like Toru Kameyama, also known as Sasa.

Hideaki Itō as Jin Miyamoto

Itō plays Miyamoto as a man who follows his own moral compass. He’s a very lonely person, Itō said. I relate to that loneliness. When asked about Miyamoto’s faithfulness to his wife, Itō expressed confidence in their marriage. Miyamoto and Hana have worked together for many years, he said. Their marriage is not perfect—no one’s marriage is perfect—but there are few secrets between them.

Ella Rumpf as Polina

Ella Rumpf, who had a recurring role in season two of True Detective, stars as an investigative journalist for Tokyo VICE. Polina has a scarred past, but it doesn’t deter her from using her tenacity and trustworthiness to dig up dirt on Japan’s most powerful people. At first glance she seems like an easy target for sexual harassment and assault by men in power—but when these men underestimate her at their own peril.

Show Kasamatsu as Sato

The series follows Sato, a public-safety officer working in the Organized Crime Control Bureau. The NPA dissolved after an incident involving Tanaka and his successor Inoko . Kasamatsu confronts him during a case over ivory smuggling with Tonny Heineken. On interrogating Heineken, Sato learns that Tonny’s mother Bambi owns Taka-yuki Corporation which imports weapons for radical groups in Japan and also smuggles ivory from elephant poaching in Africa.

Tokyo Vice based on Jake Adelsteins book is now streaming on HBO Max
Tokyo Vice, based on Jake Adelstein’s book, is now streaming on HBO Max

Q & A

How did you get started? Who else would you like to work with? What are your hopes for Tokyo Vice as a series? Also, where can people learn more about Tokyo Vice and/or watch it? Lastly, what should we be asking you that we haven’t thought of yet? 🙂

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How many episodes of tokyo Vice will there be?

The series will be a complete package of 10 episodes (60 minutes each) as per J.T. Rogers’ vision of telling an accurate and terrifying story about Japan’s Yakuza through Ansel Elgort’s eyes. The shooting for season 1 was wrapped in January 2023, which means the entire season was shot in 7 months!

Where is Tokyo Vice filmed?

Tokyo Vice was filmed all over Tokyo. Here are some highlights of filming locations The opening scene in which Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe meet in a bar: The bar is actually called Bar High Five and it’s located in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The owner kindly allowed them to film there for a few days and even let them stay overnight!

Is Tokyo Vice a true story?

It’s important to note that Tokyo Vice is a work of fiction. Yes, much of it has been adapted from Adelstein’s best-selling book and yes there are real people involved in some of its storylines (including Detective Kita), but there are liberties taken by HBO here and there in service of narrative drama. The most prominent example: Detective Kita.

When was Tokyo Vice filmed?

Tokyo Vice was filmed in 2019 in Tokyo and Tōno, Japan. It was filmed on a budget of $13 million. In addition to Elgort and Watanabe, other stars include Masami Nagasawa, Jun Murakami, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Nobuaki Kaneko, Mikako Ichikawa, Sadao Abe and Kenichi Matsuyama.

What book is Tokyo Vice based on?

Tokyo Vice is based on a 2009 autobiography of a journalist named Jake Adelstein who lived in Tokyo from 1993 to 2005. In his five years there he worked as an editor for Weekly Asahi, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, and during that time witnessed first-hand organized crime groups (the yakuza) in action. He also met many members and found himself becoming good friends with them over time. His writing about these experiences has earned him national recognition.

What channel is Tokyo Vice on?

Tokyo Vice will be airing on HBO Max exclusively. This new channel is an extension of premium cable and satellite service Home Box Office that will premiere original programming to subscribers starting in April. Similar to Netflix and Hulu, it will include ad-free subscriptions with a price tag of $14.99 per month or $149.99 for a yearly membership.

Where to watch Tokyo Vice uk?

Tokyo Vice is an American television series created by J.T. Rogers and Jake Adelstein. It premiered on 7 April 2022 at 23:00 p.m., ET/PT worldwide (except in Japan where it aired from 15 April 2022), exclusively via HBO Max streaming service and its website in English. Tokyo Vice based on Jake Adelsteins book is now streaming on HBO Max

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